Friday, April 18, 2014

GOD AND THE TRINITY-PT 3: THE MORMON PERSPECTIVE

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This is Part 3, the last in this series on God and the Trinity 

LDS leaders, in an attempt to portray to the public that the Mormon Church is Christian, slough off doctrinal statements made by past leaders with a casual wave of the hand, despite the fact that those men were considered "Prophets, Seers and Revelators." They purposely give the impression that earlier dogma is no longer believed; however, while they rebuff them to the public, they do not officially renounce them. In this article you will discover the facts.
(To read Parts 1 and 2, go to dashboard and click on “Archived Articles.”)

Here are the subjects that will be covered
  • Mormon doublespeak
  • The Adam-God theory
  • The co-eternal nature of man and elements with God
  • Emergence of the first God
  • God is subject to his co-eternal counterparts and can be unseated as God
  • God was once a man
  • The begetting of the Gods
  • Mary and the conception of Jesus
  • Creation
  • The Mormon Trinity 

Mormon doublespeak
Before I move into the subject of the Godhead, doublespeak is almost a must to discuss. Here's the reason: You will be reading quotes in this article from LDS leaders, especially by early leaders, revealing what the underlying beliefs of Mormonism are and upon which the early church was founded. But when you hear statements from modern-day leaders (purposely meant for the public) you may become confused, or else be taken in and say, "Wow, evidently they don't believe that anymore!" Believe me, the church does. There are, of course members who have not studied their church's theology and may be hearing it for the first time. In that case they will definitely say, "Of course we don't believe something like that!"

Today the LDS Church bends over backwards to appear Christian, especially in its statements to the public. Trained to use Christianeze and doublespeak, the leaders' pronouncements sound great on the surface but there are deeper currents underlying their statements that go down to subterranean depths. LDS spokesmen are carefully trained to cover up what they still believe and make it sound like they no longer believe them and avoid outright denouncing them.

How do they do it? They use doublespeak. That is, members can read between the lines but the public can't. There is a coded language LDS leaders and members use. For example, when LDS books are written, they are crafted in such a way that there is a sub-text that Mormons will understand but, again, the public doesn't. For example, if a Church spokesman is asked, "Do you believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ?" The question means as it is contained in the Bible and leaders know this. Their answer, or course, will be yes. But the key-coded word is "gospel." Members who read it know that while "gospel" does include Jesus' birth, death and resurrection, it also includes much more. That word includes the whole ball of wax of everything the Mormon Church believes. Members are not offended when church officials or authors cover up, because they believe that "sacred truths" must be protected. Therefore, they expect some subterfuge. ("Salvation" is another one of those keywords with double meaning.)

Mormons live with a double-consciousness because they are a minority group and considered different by others. Therefore, they have their feet in two worlds (their own and the society at large). A Deseret News article by Michael DeGroote entitled, Hugh Nibley's Coded Language and the Minority Mind-set, stated the following in reporting on a speech on "Outmigration and the Mormon Quest for Education” given by Boyd J. Peterson at the Utah Valley Conference. He is author of “Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life.”


One coping mechanism minorities use is to develop a special coded language. It allows them to speak to two different audiences at once. It is a form of doublespeak, and Mormons use it to both give information and to hide information, according to Petersen.

One example [Boyd J.] Petersen used involved a response Mitt Romney gave during his [first] presidential run when asked about doing baptisms for the dead. Romney said, "I have in my life, but I haven't recently."

Outsiders might deduce a mild renunciation of the practice. Most Mormons, however, know that baptisms for the dead are usually performed by youths.

[Referring to Hugh Nibley] Peterson said that "On one ... level Nibley made an academic argument for the general academic reader. But on another level, there is an esoteric -- usually Mormon -- subtext." (http://tinyurl.com/7vmrkxb)

Another columnist reported on one of Glen Beck's patriotic speeches in which he kept making such statements as, "Our Constitution hangs in the balance." (As a Mormon, he knew members would know he was referring to the White Horse Prophecy). The columnist humorously said that in listening to Beck's language: "I would describe [it] less as a 'secret Mormon code' than a combination of the 12 steps meets Aaron Sorkin's West Wing meets Revelations. But maybe I was wearing the wrong decoder ring.(1)

(Perhaps what the columnist and the general public need to do is send in Ovaltine labels and get Captain Midnight's secret decoder ring. That just might do the trick.)

I don't want to get too far afield from the subject of this article, so to wrap this part up there is one last example of doublespeak I must give. 

A dear, sweet LDS friend of mine could not answer the simple questions about salvation I put to her in a letter so she forwarded my questions on to BYU, hoping someone there could provide her with answers she could relay to me. Stephen E. Robinson, at the time Chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture, responded to her. I found it amazing that he could not answer my questions either, nor did he even try to provide her with any direct answers to pass on to me. The main thrust of his letter to her (she sent me a copy) was that I had an "attitude problem." It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud, but that's what his response did to me. Along with his letter, he sent her a copy of his book, Believing Christ, to forward on to me to show how much they love Christ and believe in salvation. Talk about doublespeak! Here is one of his deceptive statements from his book meant for the public. (When Mormons read it, they totally understand the underlying sub-text that isn't spelled out):

"YES! Imperfect people can be reconciled to a perfect God and be allowed to dwell in his presence." (p.7. Underlining mine) 

Note that he avoids including the information that the only way anyone can really be reconciled to God, according to LDS theology, and "dwell in his presence," is by (1) belonging only to the LDS Church, (2) paying tithing and abstaining from caffeine drinks, (3) obey all rules of the church, (4) be submissive to leaders, (5) men must advance in the priesthood (6) members must go to the temple to learn special passwords and handshakes to bypass the angels who guard the gates of heaven, (7) have a temple marriage, and much more. Without these, NO ONE, not even a Mormon, can expect to be reconciled enough to God and be allowed to dwell in His presence. (Hmmm . . . odd that Robinson left all that out.)

Upon surface reading, his book contains acceptable concepts about God's grace through Christ and about the necessity of one accepting Christ, but it (purposely) only goes so far. His generalized statements on the subject are only a prerequisite to what will be required of members later by the LDS Church if they really want to be reconciled enough to enter the presence of God in heaven. No mention of this because the book is written on a very basic level intended for the general public.

Besides doublespeak, Church presidents, for example, can respond in vague terms that leave both the public and, oftentimes, members puzzled. For example, in the 1997 interview by the San Francisco Chronicle where the late LDS President Gordon B. Hinkley was asked if Mormons believe that God was once a man, his answer:

I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become. Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about (San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997. p. 3/Z1. (Cited in Utah messenger #110 at www.utlm.org)

He's the President of the Church and he doesn't know very much about it? Also, in a 1997 interview for Time magazine, President Hinckley downplayed it again claiming he didn't know much about it: 

On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he sounded uncertain, 'I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it . . . I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it.'" (Time, Aug. 4, 1997, p. 56)

Who can imagine the President of the LDS Church not knowing much on the subject. Joseph Smith sure knew a lot about it; so did Brigham Young.

The Adam-God doctrine
Before we move on to the Mormon perspective of God and the Trinity, I need to say that none of the beliefs concerning the Mormon godhead that I will be quoting have, to my knowledge, been "officially" repudiated by the First Presidency except onethe Adam-God doctrine: 

A nutshell description: Brigham Young taught that Adam was God (a resurrected man from a previous world who earned his Godhood). Adam, along with his plural wives was the literal father of our spirits, after which he condescended to come to earth bringing Eve, one of his wives, with him so he could also start off the human race physically. He then returned to heaven where he serves as the God of this world. Later, he returned to earth to literally sire Jesus. (For more information, go to www.utlm.org. click on Topical Index, then Adam-God Doctrine.)

The Adam-God "theory," as it is generally referred to, was dismissed in 1892 through a letter to the Honorable A. Saxey, Provo Utah, by Pres. Joseph F. Smith who stated the reason as being: "The Doctrine was never submitted to the Councils of the Priesthood nor to the Church for approval or ratification and was never formally or otherwise accepted by the Church. It is therefore in no sense binding upon the Church."

After the turn of the century the church openly took the position that it no longer needed to be taught. Then, in 1976, Pres. Spencer W. Kimball said, "We denounce [the] theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." But, in a private interview, Kimball is reported to have said that he did not say the doctrine that Brigham Young taught was false, but that the interpretation and understanding of the doctrine often used by Fundamentalists and apostates does not reflect what Brigham Young really meant. (Cited at Wikipedia, http://tinyurl.com/btta8yu)

 In 1981, Bruce R. McConkie reprimanded a BYU professor for teaching it, stating it to be "false doctrine," and stated that anyone believing it will be "damned." He failed to mention that if that's so, then Brigham Young who taught it must of necessity also be damned. (See Bruce McConkie's "Letter of Rebuke to Professor Eugene England" at http://tinyurl.com/cw8bbnl)

Now, on to the Mormon Perspective of the Godhead. 

THE MORMON PERSPECTIVE ON 
GOD AND THE TRINITY

Key to references:
D&C = Doctrine and Covenants;
TPJS = The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
MD =  Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie
AF = Articles of Faith by Apostle James Talmage

Mormons admittedly share many values and qualities with evangelical Christians, but their concept of God and the Trinity remains at extreme odds with what is revealed in the Bible and believed by Christian churches. Mormons, of course, already acknowledge this divergence but feel vindicated because they believe that God called Joseph Smith as His latter-day prophet to restore truths missing from the Bibleparticularly concerning the Godhead. Smith also expounded on matters pertaining to before this world was created and how God came to be God.

Man and the elements are co-eternal with God 
In eternity, before this or any world was created, all primal elements of heaven, earth, man and God existed eternally before the first God began to rule.
Joseph Smith taught in the D&C 93:29, 30, 22:
Man was also in the beginning with God. [as spirit element, also called Intelligence] Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself [free will], as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. . . . For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy. (D&C 93:29, 30, 22) Note: This eternal Intelligence is sometimes referred to as the Sea of Intelligence. [Brackets and underlining, mine] 

Joseph Smith reiterates: 

The first principles of man are self-existent with God [co-eternal]  (TPJS, 354, The Deseret News Press, Second Edition 1940; President Joseph Fielding Smith, compiler.)

Creation
Because matter (in its primeval state) is eternal, creation was ex-materia (made out of existing material).

Bruce R. McConkie, spokesman for church doctrine, emphasized the eternal nature of all matter when speaking of the creation:

matter or element is self-existent and eternal in nature, creation being merely the organization and reorganization of that substance which was not created or made, neither indeed can be." D&C 93:29 (MD, Bruce R. McConkie. Bookcraft, 1966, 589.)

It is an utterly false and uninspired notion to believe that the world or any other thing was created out of nothing or that any created thing can be destroyed in the sense of annihilation. 
The elements are eternal. D. & C. 93:33. (Bruce R. McConkie, MD, 169) 

Joseph Smith said:

God had materials to organize the world out of chaoschaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he [God] had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. (TPJS, pp. 350-352. Cited in MD by Bruce R. McConkie, p. 169) [brackets mine]

Contrary to the Bible, the Mormon Church holds that the creation of the universe was not performed ex-nihilo, out of nothing, but ex-materia, eternal matter. Therefore, God organized matter rather than created it. Mormons do not offer an explanation of where this sea of eternal Intelligence and elements originated, since it is considered co-eternal with God.

Emergence of the first God 
God suddenly found himself in the sea of eternal Intelligence and elements and recognized that he was more intelligent than the rest; therefore, assumed the position of God.

In the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, he states: 

God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory [the latter two synonymous with Intelligences and eternal matter], because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. (President Joseph Fielding Smith, compiler. TPJS, 354, The Deseret News Press, Second Edition 1940.) [brackets mine

God is subject to the co-eternal Intelligences and can be unseated as God. 
Section 93 of the D&C states that because free agency is an intrinsic principle of heaven, all of these intelligences act freely and independently in their respective spheres. These Intelligences obey God because they want to; not because they have to. (D&C 93:30) Therefore, as W. Cleon Skousen explains, God is dependent upon their sustaining influence and honor to remain God and accomplish His purposes: 

Through modern revelation we learn that the universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain Him as such. In other words, as God extended His power and influence throughout His great kingdom, He did so by obtaining the voluntary cooperation and support of vast concourses of intelligences. . . . But since God 'acquired' the honor and sustaining influence of  'all things' it follows as a corollary that if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the 'power' of God would disintegrate.... He would cease to be God.' . . . Our Heavenly Father can do only those things which the intelligences under Him are voluntarily willing to support Him in accomplishing. (W. Cleon Skousen, The First 2000 Years, pp. 355-356.) [Underlining mine].

God was once a man 
The LDS belief is that God progressed and was once a man; therefore, man may also progress to Godhood. 

Now, if the original God became a man, then eons ago he would have had to make a material world first, enter it and take on a fleshly body, then return to heaven. Heb. 13:8, on the other and, says that, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So, if God never changes and He didnt start out as a man, how could he change to become one?

The following quotes are generally believed to be referring to the God of this world (who is a lesser Elohim begotten in the line of the Gods), not the original God (unless the original God did indeed make a material world just for himself, enter mortality and then return to heaven with a physical body.)

Apostle, James E. Tamage, stated: 

We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement - a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of the sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the church proclaims the eternal truth: 'As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be'." (Apostle James Talmage, AF, p. 430). [underlining mine

Joseph Smith taught: 

First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret . . . I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity . . . . God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did, . . . You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves . . . No man can learn you more than what I have told you." (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, pp. 613-614.) [underlining mine

Unbiblical doctrines such as this always manage to find their way into the sects. Knowing this, Jesus stressed in John 17:3, This is life eternal, that ye may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. How do we come to "know?" By studying the Bible. Then, to use James' words (1:6), there will be no chance of being "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.

Ones definition of God determines whether one thinks he or she can become a God; thus, if Mormons believe God was once a man, then they naturally assume it is possible. If Christians believe the Biblical definition of God, then they naturally assume it is not possible.

The begetting of the Gods
Joseph Smith reasoned that it was only natural that all Gods procreate to produce future Gods:  

If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? . . . Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it. . . . I have got all the truth which the Christian world possessed, and an independent revelation in the bargain, and God will bear me off triumphant. (Joseph Smith's Sermon on Plurality of Gods, June 16, 1844, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 473-479) 

However, the Book of Revelation (1:8) says that God is the first and the last; and the beginning and the end; therefore, that means there were no Gods before him, and there will be no more gods after himeven Mormon gods.

Mormons today continue to strive for Godhood and anticipate the perpetuation of their temple marriage and being able to produce spiritual offspring in heaven. (Their spirit children will be sent to the next earth to gain a physical body.) All members have to do is follow the laws and ordinances of the church, obey leaders without question, pay tithes and offerings, keep the Word of Wisdom, stay morally clean, receive temple rituals and marry in the temple. 

Jesus Christ 
While the LDS Church today publicly proclaims something different in order to impress the Christian world, the late Prophet, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, let the cat out of the bag when asked if Latter-day Saints believe in the traditional Christ. He answered: 

No, I dont. The traditional Christ of whom they [the Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. (Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7)

He made that statement because Joseph Smith claimed that Jesus and God the Father, as two separate, glorified men, supposedly appeared to Joseph Smith about 1820 and told him that all of Christendom was an abomination. Further, early LDS church leaders taught that in Jesus mortal life, he married and had wives. Mary Magdalene was one of them. Although no longer taught openly, this makes sense to Mormons who know about this teaching because Jesus would not be able to advance to Godhood without having at least three wives or more. (Today, leaders are claiming to believe in the traditional Christ.)

Pres. Hinckley
s statement that he does not believe in the Christian Christ also becomes apparent when we see how the church views the conception of Jesus.

Mary and the conception of Jesus
Before we talk about the actual conception, it might be well to mention here that Mormons believe that before Jesus was born, he was the first-born "spirit-child" of God the Father and one of his wives. As God's first-born, Jesus ranked as the second God in Elohims Trinity. He was also the Jehovah of the Old Testament and later incarnated into humanity.

Now to the earthly conception:

The early church believed that God, a resurrected man from a previous world, came down to Mary and literally sired Jesus in the same way any man begets children. This was stated as an official doctrine to the church in 1916 by the First Presidency as follows:

Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh . . . (2) (Underlining mine. See endnote for full quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.)

Bruce  R. McConkie, church spokesman stated:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. (cited in MD, by Bruce McConkie, p. 742) [underlining mine]

Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 546-47). 

"Christ was begotten of God. He was NOT born without the aid of man and that man was God!" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1:18
"The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 11:268

"Jesus is the only person who had our heavenly father as the father of his body" (family home evening manual p.125-126 1972) See endnote 3 for more quotes about Mary. 

"The birth of the savior was as natural as the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and bloodwas begotten of his father, as were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses vol.8 p.115)

Bruce R. McConkie elaborates:

[The] name-titles [of Christ being the only begotten of the father] all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers. (MD, p. 546-547.) [underlining mine] (3)

For more LDS quotes on Mary's conception, be sure and see endnote #3. See also, http://www.letusreason.org/lds10.htm and http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/ldsleadersconceptofjesus.htm.)

For Mormons reading this, remember this doctrine was issued as official by the First Presidency and cannot be rescinded by today's leaders. Because of this the LDS Church is obligated to believe it today, but is not obliged to openly teach it

The following Mormon view of salvation illustrates Pres. Hinckleys statement that they do not believe in the traditional Christ:

Salvation 
The LDS Church believes that Jesus atonement paid for the effects of Adams sin that brought about physical and spiritual death. They believe that, thanks to Jesus' death on the cross, everyone will be resurrected and gain some level of salvation except the Sons of Perdition. The church calls this unconditional salvation. On the other hand, conditional, individual salvation has to be earned in the Mormon Church.

The two levels are explained by Bruce R. McConkie in his book, Mormon Doctrine, paraphrased as follows:

(1)   Unconditional salvation means universal resurrection and immortality for everyone through the grace of Christ. They will be judged and placed in one of the two lower kingdoms or heavens, the Terrestrial or Telestial (except the Sons of Perdition),

(2)  
Conditional salvation (or individual) is achieved only after adhering to all the rules, ordinances and principles of the LDS Church. This conditional salvation embraces exaltation (going to the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom and becoming a God) and eternal life (saved in a lesser degree of the Celestial Kingdom, although both terms may often apply to those who become Gods). Faithful members will be placed in one of the three degrees within the Celestial Kingdom. Those who never married will only gain exaltation (lower degrees within the Celestial Kingdom), but not eternal life (Godhood) in the highest degree, which is reserved for those who married in the temple. There, they will be gods and goddesses, create new worlds, and produce the spirit-children to people those worlds.(4) The term "eternal life" means a continuation of the seed.

McConkie adds that  conditional salvation (individual) is only possible through Joseph Smith and by being a member of the LDS Church:

Without the atonement, the gospel [Mormon], the priesthood, and the sealing power, there would be no salvation. . . . If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (McConkie, MD, p. 670. He refers to Doctrines of Salvation by Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, vol. 2, pp. 1-350). [underlining mine

In contrast, the Bible equates salvation with eternal life and states that it is a present possession (Luke 18:9-14, John 3:16, 5:24, Romans 4:16, I John 5:13, Eph. 2:8) But for Mormons it is a future hope. (II Nephi 25:23) Therefore, while Mormons work to get saved (into heaven); Christians work because they are already saved.

The LDS Gospel Doctrine Sunday School lesson booklet states:

Quite different from most Christian denominations, Latter-day Saints cannot at any time during their lives boast that they have been saved. Salvation comes not from a mere compliance with Church rituals. A confession of Jesus will not bring it.(5)

Where did the Mormon plan of salvation come from? 
A majority of it from the Book of Abraham. In it, Joseph Smith said that a council was held prior to creation where Jesus and Lucifer, as the spirit-children of God (thus, they are brothers) proposed salvation plans for humankind. Jesus plan was accepted because it allowed free will and He would give the glory to God. Lucifers was rejected because he would force everyone to be saved and he wanted the glory. (Ab. 3:27-28)

A note on Free will: The principle is touted in the LDS Church because of the above. One is to use his or her free will to make the decision to join the church and once there, use their free will to be obedient to leaders, advance and earn their godhood. However, once in the church, if you choose not to advance (or you start asking too many questions), your free will in choosing that option will result in consequences. Therefore, free will is not really respected. Now, back to the subject of salvation.

The LDS Church also believes that Jesus blood is not enough to cover all sins, specifically adultery and murder. (6) (See this endnote for details.) The Bible, while it says in I Jn 3:15 that no murderer hath eternal life abiding within him and Rev. 21:8 says murderers and whoremongers and sorcerers, etc., will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, the tense in the original language refers to those who "continually abide in these things and persist by their own choice in the activity as a life-style. According to the Bible, if they repent, they can be forgiven. Never does Jesus say that a murderer cannot be forgiven. 

THE MORMON TRINITY

God the Father 
God the Father is a glorified and perfected Man, a Personage of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) in which tangible body an eternal spirit is housed. It is in this sense that God is a Spirit. (McConkie, MD, 319)

. . .Each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others . . . they all think, act, speak, and are alike in all things; and yet they are three separate and distinct entities. Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, . . . Perhaps no better statement defining the Godhead . . . [is] that given by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Lectures on Faith. . . .
The Father being a personage of spirit [meaning that he has a spiritual body which by revealed definition is a resurrected body of flesh and bones (I Cor. 15:44-45; D. & C. 88:27] . . . (MD, 319-320) (brackets are McConkies.) 

The Holy Spirit and Holy GhostThe Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost in Mormon theology are two different entities. The Holy Ghost, as we will see further below, is a bodiless man waiting the day to take on a mortal body.


 The Holy "Spirit" 
The Holy Spirit, according to LDS doctrine, is distinct from the Holy Ghost and is not a man, but an "it." It is the essence, or spiritual energy that proceeds from throne of God and is diffused throughout the universe. 

It permeates all nature, [and] lighteth every man [who is born] and fills the immensity of space. . . . It enlightens the wicked as well as the good. It may be said to constitute mans consciousness (McConkie MD, p. 752-753) 

It is omnipresent and contains and controls all the forces of nature, e.g., electricity, etc., and gives life and light to mankind. It is the spiritual energy that co-existed with the first God in the Sea of Intelligence, as Parley P. Pratt notes: 

[The Holy Spirits] substance, like all others, is one of the elements of [eternal] material . . . and therefore subject to the necessary laws which govern all matter, as before enumerated. . . . This Holy Spirit, under the control of the Great Eloheim, is the grand moving cause of all intelligences, and by which they act. This is the great, positive, controlling element of all other elements. It is omnipresent by reason of the infinitude of its particles, and it comprehends all things. (The Holy Spirit by Parley P. Pratt, cited in Discourses on the Holy Ghost, compiled by N.B. Lundwall. Bookcraft, 1959, p. 75.) [brackets mine] 

The Holy Spirit is utilized by God and the Holy Ghost to exact their will and influence upon men. Because God is a man and incapable of being omnipresent, out of necessity He needs this Holy Spirit. (McConkie, MD p. 753)

The Holy "Ghost"
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Trinity, a spirit man, and is separate and distinct from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

He is a personage of Spirit, a Spirit Person, a Spirit Man, a Spirit Entity. (Bruce R. McConkie. MD, p. 359.) 

Orson Pratt, says: 

The absurdity of supposing the Holy[Ghost] to be a mere property or influence of the Father, instead of being an intelligent agent of himself, is so great, that we do not feel disposed to bring any further evidence or proof to establish the distinct identity of the two. (The Holy Spirit; the Holy Ghost, by Orson Pratt; approved by Dr. John A. Widtsoe; cited in  Discourses on the Holy Ghost, compiled by N.B. Lundwall. Bookcraft, 1959, p. 79.) 
The Holy Ghost, in contrast to the Holy Spirit, cannot be omnipresent states McConkie: 
The Holy Ghost, contrary to the Holy Spirit, can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son, but by his intelligence, his knowledge, his power and influence, over and through the laws of nature [utilized by the Holy Spirit], he is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God. (McConkie, MD, p. 752) [brackets mine]

[The Holy Ghost] can be in only one place at one time, and he does not and cannot transform himself into any other form or image than that of the Man whom he is, though his power and influence can be manifest at one and the same time through all immensity [through the medium of the Holy Spirit]. (Bruce R. McConkie. MD, p. 359; also in James E. Talmage
s article, The Holy Ghost; cited in Discourses on the Holy Ghost, compiled by N.B. Lundwall, Bookcraft, 1959.) [brackets mine]

The Holy Ghost may one day take on a mortal body.
Although this is not considered church doctrine, it is quietly believed by many—especially by Mormon Fundamentalists. This is another of the church's beliefs that new converts to the church are certainly unaware of.

Joseph Smith taught that one day the Holy Ghost, because Hes a spirit man will have the privilege of becoming mortal: 

But the Holy Ghost is yet a spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body as the Saviour did or as God did or the gods before them took bodies. (Joseph Smith, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, April 6, 1843; cited in Discourses on the Holy Ghost, compiled by N.B. Lundwall, Bookcraft, 1959.) 

Pre-mortal leaders of earthly dispensations acted as Holy Ghostseven Joseph Smith 
The modern church does not teach this, but Mormon Fundamentalists (those groups that have separated from the mainline church and adhere to the beliefs prevalent in the early church) believe that the mortal leader of each dispensation, prior to their birth into mortality, served in the role of a Holy Ghost. The first Holy Ghost was the pre-mortal Enoch, then Abraham, Noah, and Peter. The next was Joseph Smith. Josephs following statement contained in Apostle Orson F. Whitneys book is interpreted by Fundamentalists as implying this: (The word "blasphemy" is the key word.)

Had not Joseph said many times--are not men now living who heard him say: "Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life. (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Ch.46, p.321-3 Salt Lake City, The Kimball Family, Printed at the Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888.Underlining, mine)  Salt Lake City, The Kimball Family, Printed at the Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888.Underlining, mine) 


The LDS Church today would deny, or skirt around, the above if asked outright, mainly because it is too shocking for both the public and members; also because there is no evidence that it was accepted as an official doctrine of the church. To avoid these controversial teachings, Modern-day leaders say, . . .a single leader may, on a single occasion, often represent a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. So far, the LDS Church has not officially rejected it.)

Reception of the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands 
Mormons believe that the Holy Ghost can only be received by the laying on of hands by those holding the proper Priesthood in the Mormon Church. (This, however, discounts the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost fell upon many with no laying on of hands.) This ordination gives members the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, whereas non-members may periodically have that temporary presence now and then, mainly with the objective of leading them to the LDS Church.
SUMMARY OF MORMON PERSPECTIVE OF GOD AND THE TRINITY
In eternity: 
  • All primal elements (which includes matter in a more refined state), as well as the core intelligence of man were co-eternal with God.
  • The very first God (The Great Elohim) found himself in the midst of this Sea of Intelligence and became God because he saw he was more intelligent than the rest.
  • Because of this God's co-eternal existence with the Intelligences, He became subject to them and their eternal laws and principles.
  • If God should ever do anything to violate the laws and principles of these Intelligences, they would withdraw their support and God would cease to be God.

Our universe
  • God our Father (a lesser Elohim begotten in the line of the Gods) is a resurrected man from a previous world who earned his Godhood, as did his plural wives.
  • Elohim and his plural wives literally produced spirit-children who were later born into mortal babies on this world. A God’s firstborn spirit-child always becomes the Savior Jesus Christ of that world.
  • Elohim’s firstborn spirit-child was Jehovah, the preexistent Jesus Christ. His other child was Lucifer/Satan; thus, Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.
  • Jehovah organized this world ex-materia; that is, from pre-existing, eternal elements.
  • Elohim, as an exalted man, visited Mary and impregnated her. His son, Jehovah’s spirit body, inhabited Mary's baby.
  • Faithful Mormons may also achieve Godhood. The Salt Lake City Mormon History Examiner cites Lorenzo Snow, the fifth prophet of the church with the following couplet, which he said was confirmed by Pres. Brigham Young: “As man is God once was; as God is, man may become.”(7)
  • Men will eventually become a God over their own planet and, along with their plural wives, people newly created worlds.
  • Elohim and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith about 1823, selected him as His prophet, and declared Christendom an abomination, then supposedly introduced all the above.

Fascinating stuff. There are other bizarre doctrines that Joseph Smith acquired, but where did he get them? (See this endnote) (8) Certainly not from the Bible, as the following comparison chart clearly shows: 

          Mormonism teaches                                                            Christianity teaches
God the Father is an exalted man with                                 God the Father is not a man. He is a
a resurrected body.                                                               Spirit (Num. 23:19; Isa 31:3; Jn 4:24)

God is a man, so cannot be omnipresent.                            God is a spirit, therefore can be
Only the Holy Spirit is omnipresent.                                       omnipresent. (Ps. 139; Jn 4:24)

God the Father had a beginning and is                                  God the Father is eternally 
subject to the co-eternal Intelligences,                                   preeminent. (Isa. 43:13)
and can be dethroned by them.

More Gods are literally begotten.                                            There are no Gods before or                                                                                                                after Jehovah. (Isa 44:6 and 3:10)

God the Father has parents and                                            God has no parents. (Isa. 43:13)
grandparents.

God the Father and Jesus Christ are                                     God is not married; neither was
polygamists.                                                                           Jesus. His only bride is the church.                                                                                                    (Mark 12:18-30; Rev. 19:7-9; 21:9)

There are a plurality of Gods.                                                 There is only one God.                                                                                                                        (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10)

God "organized" the universe from                                         God "created" the universe ex-nihilo,
eternal matter, ex-materia.                                                      out of nothing.                                                                                                                                       (Gen 1:1; Jn 1:1; Heb. 11:3)

Jesus Christ was the literal offspring                                    Jesus was begotten by the Holy 
of God and Mary.                                                                   Spirit. (Matt. 1:18-23; Lk 1:26-35)

Jesus became an exalted God after                                      Jesus has always been God.
His resurrection.                                                                     (Jn 1:1-18; Col. 2:9)

Satan is a literal offspring of God and                                    Satan is a created being.
one of God's wives.                                                                (Isa. 14:12-15; Rev. 12:9)

Men can become Gods.                                                        Men are lower than the angels.
                                                                                               (Heb. 2:6-7; Ps. 8:4)

The spirits of all men are already the                                     Men can only become children of 
children of God when they are born.                                      God through adoption and faith.
                                                                                                (Jn 1:12)

There is opportunity for salvation                                           There is no salvation opportunity
after death.                                                                              after death. (Heb. 9:27)

There is salvation only through the                                         There is salvation only in Jesus 
LDS Church, works, and the approval                                   Christ. (Jn. 14:6; Jn 3:16; 
of Joseph Smith.                                                                     Eph. 2:8-9)

Jesus' blood does not forgive all sins                                   Jesus said “all” sins will be forgiven
repented of, specifically murder and                                     except the sin against the Holy 
adultery.                                                                                 Ghost. (Mark 3:28). Whoever believes                                                                                                 in Him shall receive remission of sins.                                                                                      (Acts 10:36) . Jesus forgives all                                                                                                            trespasses. (Col 2:13); and                                                                                                                remembers them no more.
                                                                                                (Heb. 8:12.


The Holy Ghost is a spirit man, waiting                                  The Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are
to take on a body, while the Holy                                             synonymous; neither one of them 
Spirit is an energy proceeding from                                        are spirit-men. (Heb. 9:14; Ps.139)
the throne of God.

Reliability of the Bible
The LDS Church believes the Bible only as it is translated correctly and believes there are huge chunks missing from it; therefore, it places their own scriptures (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price) above it, considering them the "pure" Word of God. Mormon apologists also embrace Gnostic documents that were renounced by the early historic church.

The scriptures, however, are the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to man. Menzies and Horton note that: 

The Greek word most nearly equivalent to our word "inspiration" is found in 2 Timothy 3:16. It is theopneustos. It means, literally, "God-breathed." By divine breath and power the Holy Spirit moved the (human) authors of the Bible with such precision that the product accurately reflects the intention of God himself.(9)

The Bible is reliable despite what the LDS Church claims. The true church needs no additional writings, such as the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants or Pearl of Great Price to add to the Bible. The contents of the Bible are sufficient for salvation, which is its main purpose. The Bible is confirmed every day by archaeological findings and early manuscripts. The preservation of the Bibles accuracy over the centuries can be seen in the fact that 95% of the words from the Isaiah scroll (in the Dead Sea Scrolls) are identical with the Hebrew text of the book of Isaiah from which the King James Version was translated. (The other 5% consist of minor slips of the pen and variations in spelling.)

Biblical conclusion on Mormonism
  • God is not subject to any co-eternal sea of Intelligence. He is, by Himself, eternally preeminent from everlasting to everlasting.
  • God is not a man.
  • There are no other Gods before Him, nor will there be after him.
  • There is no plurality of Gods, and man will never become a God.
  • The Holy Ghost is not a man waiting to take upon a body. The Holy Ghost is synonymous to, and the same as the Holy Spirit.
  • The Elohim created the world ex-nihilo through the spoken Word (Logos), not through organizing pre-existing, eternal material that was co-equal with God.
  • The pre-mortal Jesus entered mortality to save the world from the Fall by sacrificing Himself for everyone's sins. That act offers complete salvation and eternal life to believers that is not based upon works, paying one's tithing, not drinking coffee, advancing in the priesthood, going to a temple to learn secret passwords and handshakes to get into heaven, or being married in the temple.
  • Mary's conception took place by the power of the Holy Ghost. It "overshadowed" her. It is the Greek word, episkiazo, defined as: "to cast a shadow upon, or envelope in a haze of brilliancy."
  • There will be no polygamy in heaven. Jesus said so in Matt 22:30, Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35.
  • The Trinity is One God, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all of whom are distinctions of Persons within God. They are not three separate Gods as Mormons believe.  

We can now see the importance of following the imperative of Jesus to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. (John 17:3) This comes from purposeful study of the Bible and influence of the Holy Spirit. By so doing, it enables us to more clearly detect any false theology. Paul understood this . . . so much so, that he repeated his warning twice:

But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we [the apostles] have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8-9) 

Until next time! 
Janis






ENDNOTES 
(1) "Glenn Beck Is Speaking In Secret Mormon Code" by Glynnis MacNicol. http://tinyurl.com/2ccskrc

(2) Father" as Literal Parent ... God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted name-title "Elohim," is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race. Elohim is the Father in every sense in which Jesus Christ is so designated, and distinctively He is the Father of spirits. ... Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 4, pp. 1670-1671)

(3) Mary, his mother, was carried away in the Spirit (I Ne. 11:13-21), was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place by the power of the Holy Ghost resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20). (See also McConkie p. 822

When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit [Mary] with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits, and that is all the organic difference between Jesus Christ and you and me. And a difference there is between our Father and us consists in that He has gained His exaltation, and has obtained eternal lives. The principle of eternal lives is an eternal existence, eternal duration, eternal exaltation. Endless are His kingdoms, endless His thrones and His dominions, and endless are His posterity; they never will cease to multiply from this time henceforth and forever. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pp. 217-218)

Apostle James E. Talmage wrote:
That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the "Son of the Highest." In His nature would be combined the powers of Godhood with the capacity and possibilities of mortality; and this through the ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity, declared of God, demonstrated by science, and admitted by philosophy, that living beings shall propagateafter their kind. The Child Jesus was to inherit the physical, mental, and Spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that characterized His parentsone immortal and glorifiedGod, the other humanwoman. (Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage, p. 81)

In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under the heading JESUS CHRIST we read:
He was able to accomplish his unique ministrya ministry of reconciliation and salvationbecause of who and what he was. President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of Godin the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was fathered by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" ... From Mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the capacity to die. From his exalted Father he inherited immortality, the capacity to live forever. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, pp.724-725)

For Latter-day Saints, the paternity of Jesus is not obscure. He was the literal, biological son of an immortal, tangible Father and Mary, a mortal woman (see Virgin Birth). Jesus is the only person born who deserves the title "the Only Begotten Son of God" ... He was not the son of the Holy Ghost; it was only through the Holy Ghost that the power of the Highest overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35; 1 Ne. 11:19). (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, p. 729)

Apostle McConkie explained that there was nothing figurative about Marys conception:
And so it is with the Eternal Father and the mortal birth of the Eternal Son. The Father is a Father is a Father; he is not a spirit essence or nothingness to which the name Father is figuratively applied. And the Son is a Son is a Son; he is not some transient emanation from a divine essence, but a literal, living offspring of an actual Father. ... There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord's coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. (The Promised Messiah, pp. 468-469)
19 Aug, 1866 - Brigham Young preached from the pulpit on Aug. 19, 1866:
"Mary, the wife of Joseph, had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard... he was begotten by God our Heavenly Father." She was a polyandrist, like the women he authorized in 1857. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268) 

(4) Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie, second edition (Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1979), 669-670.

(5) Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lesson booklet, 1931, p.107.

(6) a man may be saved in the Celestial Kingdom if, after committing adultery, but before accepting Mormonism, repents. (McConkie, MD, 24.)

If a Mormon, before going through the temple, commits adultery and repents, he or she will be forgiven; but, the second time, shall be cast out/excommunicated. Jesus blood will not cover him or her. (D & C, 42:24-26; MD, 24-25.)

If a Mormon commits adultery after being sealed in the temple and has had his or her calling and election made sure (has had the Lord personally appear and assure him of his exaltation (See Mormon Doctrine, 109-110), he can never be saved in the Celestial Kingdom. (Ibid. 24-25.)

Biblical view: The Bible says in I Jn 3:15 no murderer hath eternal life abiding within him and Rev. 21:8 says murderers and whoremongers and sorcerers, etc., will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, but this is referring to those who ABIDE in these things and persist by their own choice in the activity as a life-style. According to the Bible, if they repent, they can be forgiven. Never does Jesus say that a murderer cannot be forgiven.


(8 See Chapter Six of the authors book, The Mormon Missionaries: An inside look, where sources for Joseph Smiths doctrines and teachings are listed.

(9) Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective, William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton (Logion Press, Springfield, MO, 1994) 21.

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